Up next in the character profile series is everyone's favorite extrovert, Justin Stanford! He was really fun to write, though he even got on my nerves a little at times! Just kidding.
Meet Justin Stanford — Summed Up in One Sentence (and Then Some Commentary)
Justin's the kind of guy who can lighten up any mood and tell a joke at the drop of a hat, but also has a sensitive side he rarely lets anyone see and can find his way out of even the most difficult situations. It's a gift.
This guy is awesome.
Ready for a couple of inspo pics?
Justin Stanford Inspo Pic #1 (the pensive one)
Justin Stanford Inspo Pic #2 (the intense, possibly slightly scary one)
This guy actually looks pretty close to how I imagined Justin, though the Justin in my head was a little more relaxed. That second pic is a little intense! Hahaha! I suppose if someone messed with Mandy, they'd see this look.
Speaking of which...
His Relationship with Mandy
Justin and Mandy have been dating for three years (at the start of the book) and he really loves her, though sometimes he struggles to actually show it. He figures she knows it, right? But he learns to open up a little throughout the book. Character arc and all that.
In The Secret of the Codex, Justin is hit with a lot. Like A LOT. But the guy somehow finds a way to keep a positive attitude and finish what he started. All while taking care of Mandy and helping the others on their quest.
While his jovial personality and uncanny ability to find a joke to fit every situation annoy Mandy at times, she loves that he can make her smile. They're a close second for my favorite OTP (One True Pairing) in the book. (You know I have to give the top spot to Kayla and Grady.) These two are adorable.
Since the three chapter preview on the website (sign up here for your copy before the book comes out on August 28th!) doesn't let you meet Justin, I thought I'd drop in a pretty great excerpt featuring him and Mandy. I think it shows his personality off pretty well.
Book Excerpt — Justin and Mandy
“Justin, for the thousandth time, will you please tell me where we’re going?” Mandy threw the red dress she’d discarded for the light blue one she was wearing in her suitcase, then crossed her arms and stared directly at Justin and his army-green duffel bag sitting barely packed on the bed. She was getting sick of this stalling. Out with it already.
But Justin was clearly enjoying himself. He grinned as he pulled on a dark red v-neck over his light khakis. “Nope.”
Mandy playfully punched his arm, quickly regretting it. She was still quite sore from the fight in her room yesterday. “Come on, tell me! I can’t be the only one in the dark.” She stuck out her lower lip.
Justin simply grinned too widely in her direction. She threw a pillow at his head. He ducked, deftly avoiding the flying projectile.
“You know that’s not fair.” She began cramming clothes in her bag, throwing her belongings a little too harshly into her suitcase.
Justin shrugged as he grabbed a waded up a pair of khakis and stuffed them in his bag. “Life’s not fair.”
“Ugh! You can be so aggravating sometimes.”
“You know you love me.” Justin strolled around the bed and hugged her from behind. She shrugged him off, choosing instead to stomp toward the bathroom.
Grrr! That man is insufferable sometimes, Mandy thought as she put both hands on the counter and stared at her reflection in the mirror. The bruises were worse today—though not as bad as she supposed they should have been; they appeared to already be healing—so she dabbed some concealer on her cheek and under her eye until she could barely make them out.
Then Mandy sighed. I wish there was a way to make him tell me. Then she had a thought. Worth a try . . . She grinned, started filling her toiletry bag with just about everything on the counter, then called out, “It’s okay, I’ll find out eventually. Kayla will tell me.” She threw her toothpaste into the small bag then froze, waiting for Justin’s response.
He was at the door immediately. “No! Don’t do that. I want to surprise you.”
Mandy turned to look at him, cocking her head to one side. She hadn’t been sure that would work. “Surprise me? That doesn’t sound good. Tell me.”
Justin paused for a brief moment, then walked back into the main room. Mandy grabbed her packed toiletry bag and followed him to the bed, sitting down next to him. She threw the bag into her suitcase then grabbed his hand, staring into his eyes. “Come on. You know I hate surprises.”
Justin sighed. Finally, Mandy thought.
“So you know I’m not from Florida,” he began.
Mandy nodded but stayed quiet.
“I grew up in Montana, near Yellowstone.”
Mandy blinked. “And?”
Justin stared at her pointedly, waiting.
Then, suddenly, she got it. She grinned. “We’re going to Yellowstone!”
Justin smiled at her. “Yes, but . . .”
He hesitated. “Well . . . we’ve been together for a few years now.”
“Yeah . . .”
“And we’re pretty serious, right?”
Mandy raised an eyebrow. “What’s this about, Justin?”
Justin took a deep breath. “You wanna meet my parents?”
Mandy shoved his arm. “You were going to just surprise me with this? You were just going to let me go into that blind?”
“I don’t know. I just . . . I guess I didn’t really want to find out what you thought, in case you didn’t want to.”
She smiled at him, a smile she could tell reached her eyes in spite of the pain in her cheek. “Of course I’ll meet them. But only if you want me to.”
Justin shrugged. “Sure.”
Mandy leaned over and kissed him. “Don’t worry. People love me.”
“Right,” Justin mumbled sarcastically, kissing her cheek lightly before they both turned to finish packing.
What'd you think? Does Justin sound like someone you'd like to spend a little bit of time with? He certainly keeps things interesting!
In Other News...
The Kickstarter ends tomorrow!! There's still time for you to pledge and get your autographed copy and maybe some extras, too! Check out the Kickstarter page here! There are some extras on there that may not be available after tomorrow, so be sure to check it out so you don't miss it! bit.ly/secretcodex
Oh, and don't forget — we're only a little over TWO WEEKS away from the book launch on August 28th! It's getting so close! I'm so excited to be able to finally share my story with the world. As you probably know, it took me a full decade to finally realize this dream, and I can't believe I'm only 15 short days away! Ahhh! It's really surreal. And guess what? I'm finally getting listings on some awesome sites! Check out the Amazon page for The Secret of the Codex and the Goodreads page! I'd love for you to add the book to your To Read shelf on Goodreads if you're on there.
My book website is LIVE! Check it out at thesecretofthecodex.com — I think it's pretty cool!
I'd love to hear from you and answer all your questions! I'm thinking about gathering some questions from all of you and doing an "Ask the Author" post later on, so I'd like to hear everything you'd like to know! Email me at email@example.com to ask away.
Just wanted to stop by to say I wrote a guest post for Positive Writer—and it was posted today! It was so fun to write, and I'm so honored to be published on their site!The article is all about how to finally finish that project you started but can't seem to complete. Since mine took me TEN YEARS to finish, I figured I was uniquely qualified to write about what I learned. :)Check it out!How to Get Past Excuses and Finish Your Writing!<3 Melissa
Happy Friday! Who's ready for the weekend? (ME! ME!)My weekend (as with most weekends lately) will be filled with prep for this book release. It's so exciting! But it's also a LOT.*****
So here's an update.
*****Here are some of the things I've worked on so far:
THE ROAD SO FAR
1. Revealed the book cover (to my email list and then to the world!)
ICYMI, here it is again, officially on my blog this time! Isn't it AWESOME?? My designer (@erinnnoneill) is amazing!! And it totally just screams "Mayan Archaeological Thriller," right? Good. That's what I was going for. :)
2. Submitted my book to TWO printers and am in the approval process
So here's the short version of self-publishing: you have to find someone who will print your book (if you want a physical copy, which nearly every author does—I mean, the dream is to hold your book in your hands!). There are 2 major places to do this: Createspace (Amazon's company) and Ingramspark. Createspace is easy to use, and it's of course AMAZON, so it's good to do. And free! Ingramspark is a little more complicated, but its distribution options are much more robust. Ingramspark also makes it possible for bookstores to order your book (and even stock it if they choose!) as well as making preorders possible. (My book will be available to Barnes and Noble, y'all!)Which brings me to my next point...preorders will be up soon! Ahhh! The release date is getting so close! More info to follow, so keep your ears open!Oh—and guess what? I've ordered my proofs! This basically means that in a *hopefully* short time, I will actually be holding my book in my hands! AHHHHHHH!!!!! Check out my feed on Instagram (my handle is @melissafreyauthor) to keep up-to-date—I doubt I'll be able to contain my excitement when I finally receive them!
3. Wrote a BUNCH of "copy" for my book and related things ("copy" is short for "sales copy", the industry term for anything that helps sell the book—at least I hope it does!)
Basically, when you self-publish, you write literally EVERYTHING yourself. That synopsis that goes on the back cover? I wrote that. The acknowledgements? Wrote those, too. Copyright page? (The page you probably have never noticed but me, as a book nerd, have at least looked at in nearly every book I've read. It's the page with lots of technical information about the book, including the date, disclaimers, info about the book, etc.) Yup, I wrote that too. Fortunately I had a template to follow, but that was me too. The author bio? You know, that part at the end of the book that talks about the author in third person? Wrote that too. In the third person. It was a little weird.(And I'll be writing more stuff, too! See below for a list of the things coming very very soon!)
4. Working on getting the book on Kindle
This one's proving a little difficult, as the formatting's not quite right. Andrew's a formatting SUPERSTAR (I mean, LITERALLY a lifesaver) so I'm sure he'll offer his services to make it as awesome as the printed version. (Because he made the printed version look AWESOME.) Once we get that worked out, the preorders for the ebook will go live! :D
5. Worked on my author platform
Yeah, this isn't as exciting, I know, but I'm really having an amazing time connecting with the writing community on Instagram. Ever feel like social media is negative and critical? Not the writing community, at least on Instagram. Everyone's positive, supportive, and kind.Want to follow along? Check out some of my favorite hashtags and learn about some amazing indie authors!#julylitwrit#campinstawrimo#booknerdigans#writerscommunity#bookstagram#bibliophile#amwritingThese are just a few! I use several more in my posts, so feel free to branch out and even join in the conversation! (Just use the hashtags when you post.)But, since I've been actively trying to build my author platform (since about mid-April), I've nearly DOUBLED my number of followers. I don't do it to feel popular—but more followers mean more people can find out about my book. God gave me this story; it's my job to get it out to the people who need to hear about it. And how will they hear about it if I'm not telling them? Want to know what's coming next? Here's what I've got coming VERY SOON!!!
I'm hoping to have the ebook preorder listing up in the next few weeks (maybe even sooner!) and the print book listing not long after!
2. Guest posts!
I've been accepted by two blogs for guest posts (blogs with a pretty big following—I'm super excited!) and have two other blogs that have shown interest! I can't wait!
I'm hoping to get a Kickstarter up for my book in the next week or so! Since I'm funding this whole book project myself, I realized I could do so much more with a little help. So I hope to have all sorts of fun bookish extras as well as offering copies of my book, so stay tuned!
4. More blog posts!
I'll continue to blog about the release here, including excerpts from the book, updates on the second book (I have over 80,000 words so far!), more character profiles, insights into the publishing and writing process, and anything else I can think of! I want you all to be among the first to know about everything The Secret of the Codex, since many of you have been following me since the beginning. You know, back when I wrote about random things and was trying to find my voice.
5. THE LAUNCH!!
AUGUST 28, 2018. Mark your calendars, people.HAHAHAHAHAI'm hoping to do an online launch party that day, but I haven't worked out the details yet. When I do, you'll be among the first to know!
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
There are a few things that you, as the friend of an indie author, could do to help out, if you choose. You are by no means required to, but in case you've been wondering what you can do to help, I wanted to give you an easy list of things to pick from!
1. Preorder the book
2. Support the book on Kickstarter
(Details coming soon!)
3. Once you read the book, consider leaving a review on Amazon!
It's one of the BEST ways to help an indie author (you know, like me) get her name out there.
4. Share on social media
If you like a post, I'd appreciate it if you'd share it with your friends! But if you don't love each and every post, that's okay, too. I'm not sure I love each and every post...haha
5. Talk about it
People in your community might like to hear about a new novel coming out. I mean, don't bring it up awkwardly or anything, but if they start asking you about books, that's your in!
6. Once the book releases, request it at your favorite bookstore, or even the library!
I doubt I'll get there soon, but the more people request my book, the more the bookstores start to consider stocking it!
7. Give me your feedback
This is probably the most important one! Likes and comments on social media posts, comments on blogs, even emails to me help me better connect with you and give you more of what you'd like to see are perfect. You can always reply to an email when you get it (like the one you heard about this blog post from) or message me directly on Instagram or Facebook too! Whether you've been following my blog since I started it way back in 2015 or are new to the party, I am SO GLAD you're here. This writing and publishing journey may seem like a solitary sport, but I couldn't do it without every single one of you.Thank you for following, and let me know what you're most excited about in the comments! Love you all!Melissa
For my Friday the 13th post, I thought I'd post a book excerpt introducing one of my main antagonists, Na-um! He was so fun to write — I just love writing my antagonists. The heroes are the most fun, of course, but there is a depth to the villains that I love to explore.
So do you want to meet him?
Awesome, right? I was so lucky to find this pic — other than the hat, this guy could be Na-um. I love the vibe of this pic.
Na-um is a stubborn, confident, charismatic leader, strong and commanding, muscular and fit. He's determined to complete his mission (to prevent the Secret from being discovered), hot-tempered when things don't go exactly as he planned, and fierce when he has to be. But he's somehow human, relatable, even likable.
I love writing likable antagonists. They make the reader feel something more when the heroes finally win (or do they?) — a tangle of emotions that swirl through the readers' minds and hearts as the conclusion plays itself out.
No, I'm not evil, I promise. :)
Ready to meet him? Here's the book excerpt I promised, where Na-um makes his grand entrance into The Secret of the Codex. Enjoy!
Somewhere in the Belize Rainforest
The Hunter sped through the forest, long black hair flowing behind him like a flag on the mast of an ancient battleship. His breathing settled into an easy rhythm, only slightly faster than normal despite his exertion. His ears, able to pick up every sound for miles despite his speed, tracked the beast in front of him. Though the beast was still a little over a mile away, he was closing the distance quickly.
Na-um, the one his people called “The Hunter,” pushed harder, hurtling himself through the forest even faster. He barely noticed the trees that he effortlessly dodged, the fallen logs he easily catapulted over, or the swaying foliage that barely brushed his feet but never slowed him down. He loved running like this—the freedom and serenity of the forest calmed him, cleared his head as it flew by at lightning speeds.
Then, as though the dense forest in front of him split down the middle, he could see the beast ahead of him. His eyes peered through the trees, leaves, and bushes and spotted the massive animal, hundreds of yards away. Na-um grinned wickedly, then pushed himself to the breaking point to close the distance.
Na-um jerked to a stop, sending up a spray of dirt and mud that cascaded down the straps of leather that comprised his outfit and the darkly tanned skin of his muscular forearms and legs. He was still a good distance away from the beast; his small disturbance in the forest wouldn’t attract his prey’s attention.
He sunk into a crouch, inching his way closer to the oblivious beast. Then he stopped.
Just in front of him, the dense undergrowth of the forest was ending, disappearing into a grassy clearing. Every muscle in Na-um’s body tensed. The beast nonchalantly lowered its muzzle to the ground, its jaws smoothly rotating as it fed on the tall grass of the clearing. Despite the apparent peacefulness of the beast, Na-um knew it wouldn’t stay still for very long. He had to move fast, or he’d lose his chance.
Moving as few muscles as possible, Na-um slowly and deliberately stretched his hand to the back of his neck. Sheathed along his back was a handmade spear, a razor-sharp arrowhead attached to the end of a thick bamboo stalk with strong twine. The spear made no sound as Na-um carefully slid it out and held it at his side. He raised it soundlessly into position.
The beast, unaware of its imminent demise, grazed contentedly. Its head never left the ground as it enjoyed what would turn out to be its final meal.
The spear soared across the clearing.
A sickening wailing emanated from the beast as the arrowhead struck its side and burrowed deep in its chest. It howled, raising its head toward the sky. Its mournful cries pierced the tranquility of the forest. Na-um came out of his crouch and sprinted into the large clearing, crossing it in no more than two seconds. He approached the beast, which lay sprawled out on the ground, hind legs futilely kicking the air. Na-um watched as the beast pulled in one last, shuddering breath.
The Hunter had won.
What did you think? Does he seem scary? Spoiler alert: he kind of is. :D